One of my favorite things about summer is shopping up and down a bustling market strip. By bringing together artists, cooks, and farmers, summer markets are a Mecca for all things local.
Even on days when nothing at the market has that “I must bring you home with me” attraction; it’s always nice to sit in the sun, listen to a local musician cover ‘Brown Eyed Girl’, and watch a sea of people flow through the row of white tents.
When the opportunity to organize a pop-up shop presented itself to me, the answer was a no-brainer, because the atmosphere is what I crave. A co-worker and I set off to find merchandise from the Goodwill stores which would soon have a home underneath our blue tent. The hunt was on!
Our first days were spent roaming the aisles collecting tea sets, jewelry, clothing and trinkets of all shapes and sizes. As it turned out, each store acted as its own unique market. Once familiarized with the layout of the stores, we quickly darted-out in every direction searching for the perfect items curated to our various themes. A handbag, to match a funky summer skirt; a tray, to hold a Japanese tea pot and matching cups. Once we felt we had accumulated enough clothing and wares to stock and re-stock our displays, we inventoried, organized, and waited with bated breath for the first market day to arrive.
The early morning air and nervous anticipation woke me up long before my alarm. Today was the day. After checking off both mental and physical check lists, we set-off for our first market. We queued in the vendor line and were soon shown our space. Two lines sprayed in white over the cement 10 feet apart from each other marked our designated area. A flurry of unloading boxes, bags, bins, and displays ensued. As we ‘popped’ our tent up and secured it with homemade weights, curious eyes and smiling faces greeted us throughout our set up. Although the market street was emptier than it would be all day, scads of “hello’s” and “good morning’s” could be heard as fellow vendors past through. Time must have moved three times its normal speed because as we placed our overflow boxes under a table cloth and out of sight; the market opened, and guests began to flood in.
Everything that I love about markets was emphasized by being a part of the mini-ecosystem. Laughing with other vendors, greeting guests with a smile, and sharing the programs and partnerships that Goodwill offers to its community filled every minute of the day. Although the items we showcased were neither handmade or homegrown, everything we displayed was 100% local. Every item was a donation from a generous Albertan, with the proceeds from every sale going towards supporting programs for disabled Albertans to find meaningful employment.
It felt good knowing that we were giving these items another chance at life; outside the landfill and into a loving home.
Once the final patrons made their march through the market, the electric adrenaline rush of human interaction began to wane as load-out began. Then as abruptly as we arrived, we left; this time with a half empty truck and a smile on our faces. The afterglow of the market remained with me until late that night, as the nervous apprehension from the morning turned to eager anticipation for our next market day.
Courtesy of Liam Maxwell
Goodwill Industries of Alberta Contributor